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Advertisements for Coca-Cola go back two centuries, to 1893. Coke was first made as a health drink, as the early slogans showed.
The first claims would have been hard to prove, if there had been advertising standards in those days – “The ideal brain tonic” (1893), “Coca-cola revives and sustains” (1905 – an early Viagra?!), “Ice cold sunshine” (1932), “The best friend thirst ever had” (1938), “Coca-cola makes good things taste better” (1955).
Advertising really took off, though in the 1950’s. “The sign of good taste” and “Be really refreshed” were from the 50’s. Coke’s early television commercials pioneered the use of animation.
The 1960’s trumped “Things go better with Coke”. They had had success with getting popular artists to perform the songs on their adverts in the 50’s (with Connie Francis and the McGuire Sisters). In the 60’s it was Roy Orbison, the Moody Blues and Ray Charles.
The most famous line “It’s the real thing” was first used in 1969. The year after, they ‘taught the world to sing’ with the ad “I’d like to buy the world a coke”. The New Seekers brought it out as a hit song, called “I’d like to teach the world to sing”, but the advert came first, not the song.
“Coke is it!” was the slogan of the 1980’s. Max Headroom was used as a digital spokesperson as Coke spearheaded the move to the digital age. The character generated more calls to the company than any previous advertising campaign. “Catch the wave” was another slogan of the 80’s, as was “You can’t beat the feeling”.
The 90’s saw the launch of the “Always Coca-Cola” campaign, featuring the polar bears. Animation was hot at the time, with Wallace & Gromit being popular, and Coke joined in. Coke have made a range of collectibles featuring these bears. Even TY, the beanie baby people have jumped on board. They did a range of Coca-Cola beanies a couple of years ago. There was a beanie from each country that produced Coca-Cola, each with a tiny Coke bottle. The Chinese one was a panda, for instance.
The year 2000 saw the launch of a simple slogan, “Coca-Cola. Enjoy”, and the ‘magic’ adverts, which featured people from all over the world having fun while enjoying Coke.
The newest ad campaign, launched in April 2001, gets personal, with snapshots of people’s great moments.
==================We received an interesting email recently about Coca-Cola, which was what prompted me to look into their history – an email which obviously was NOT put out by the Coca-Cola company. It made the following claims:
1. In many states the highway patrol carries two gallons of Coke in the trunk to remove blood from the highway after a car accident. (HAVEN’T BEEN ABLE TO VERIFY THIS – DOES ANYONE KNOW ANY US POLICE?)
2. You can put a T-bone steak in a bowl of Coke and it will be gone in two days. (SORRY, WE’RE VEGETARIAN)
3. To clean a toilet: Pour a can of Coke into the toilet bowl....... Let the "real thing" sit for one hour, then flush clean. (THIS WORKS)
4. The citric acid in Coke removes stains from vitreous china. (DON’T HAVE ANY CHINA)
5. To remove rust spots from chrome car bumpers: Rub the bumper with a crumpled-up piece of aluminium foil dipped in Coca-Cola. (THIS WORKS)
6. To clean corrosion from car battery terminals: Pour a can of Coca-Cola over the terminals to bubble away the corrosion. (NO CORROSION – FAIRLY NEW CAR)
7. To loosen a rusted bolt: Apply a cloth soaked in Coca-Cola to the rusted bolt for several minutes. (THIS WORKS)
10. To remove grease from clothes: Empty a can of coke into a load of greasy clothes, add detergent, and run through a regular cycle. The Coca-Cola will help loosen grease stains. It will also clean road haze from your windshield. (HAVEN’T HAD ANY GREASY CLOTHES TO TRY – DOES WORK ON WINDSHIELD)
FYI: 1. The active ingredient in Coke is phosphoric acid. It's pH is 2.8. It will dissolve a nail in about 4 days. (THIS WORKS – SEE BELOW)
2. To carry Coca Cola syrup (the concentrate) the commercial truck must use the Hazardous material place cards reserved for Highly Corrosive materials.
3. The distributors of coke have been using it to clean the engines of their trucks for about 20 years! Drink up!
Pretty worrying ‘facts’. But are they facts and should we be worried? I did a little research and a little experimentation.
EXPERIMENTS We placed two large screws, one aluminium and one steel, in a jam jar of Coca-Cola. Both were slightly rusty. After two days the rust had gone, after four days the steel screw had dissolved completely, the aluminium one dissolved after another few days.
RESEARCH The Coca-Cola web site is slick and impressive, as you would expect. A bit too impressive actually, it takes a while to load. They give information about what they are doing to help the environment, local projects and lots of other worthy causes. They give very little information about Coke itself.
They have a friendly little character called Hank which you can ask questions, so I did. I asked him what the ingredients of Coke are. He told me that the Coca-Cola company comply with federal requirements to list ingredients on all packaging. He added that they are not required to give the precise blend of ingredients, as that would be giving away their secret.
I asked Hank if Coke contains, or ever has contained, cocaine. He said no, it has never been an added ingredient. ADDED? Perhaps as a natural part of something that is in Coke? He wouldn’t say.
I asked him if Coke is good for you. He answered : “Soft drinks contribute to the diet in two ways. Because they are predominantly water, they can help quench thirst and meet the body's fluid requirement -- about two quarts of liquid a day. In addition, soft drinks sweetened with sugar provide carbohydrates, which are readily available to the body for quick energy. Although soft drinks make these nutritional contributions to the diet, the Company markets them as a source of simple refreshment. Consumers wishing to control their caloric intake can also choose from our variety of low-calorie soft drinks and bottled water that are available in most markets.” Hmm. If they are predominantly water, why are we paying so much for them, and why not just drink water? The carbohydrate thing is absolute tosh. Most people’s diets are far too high in carbohydrate in general and sugar in particular - we get quite enough sugar in our diets without adding more.
THE BACKGROUND Coca-Cola was invented by a pharmacist, Dr. John Pemberton. He was from Georgia, which is why the Coke museum (and very impressive it is too, I’ve been) is located there (in Atlanta). The name wasn’t invented by Dr. Pemberton, but his bookkeeper. The bookkeeper wrote it down and his way of writing it is the one that is still used today. Dr. Pemberton had been tinkering around in his pharmacy, trying to make a cure for headaches. He came up with a sweet-smelling, caramel-coloured liquid. He took it to a pharmacy store a few doors away (then Atlanta’s largest drugstore), where it was mixed with carbonated water and put on sale.
It was marketed initially as a health drink and sold in drug stores at their soda fountains for 5c a glass. It made a loss at first – selling $50 in the first year. As expenses were $70, this wasn’t a great beginning.
The International love of Coke might never have happened if it had been left to Dr. Pemberton, though. He was an inventor, not a businessman. He sold the company to a salesman called Asa Candler, for $2,300. It was Candler who dreamt up many different ways of introducing people to the drink – ideas that have since been taken on board by advertising and marketing companies today (free coupons, giving sellers calendars, clocks, scales, etc., bearing the brand name).
They invented the trademark contoured bottle to combat copycat sodas. The first company to produce these was the Root Glass Company, which were located in that place which has just become famous as the death-place of Timothy McVeigh – Terre Haute, Indiana.
Coke enjoyed remarkable success. One Ernest Woodruff bought the company in 1918 and his son Robert became president. He emerged as a marketing genius – way ahead of his time. Coke went with the US team to the 1928 Olympics, on the walls of bullfighting arenas in Spain and wherever Woodruff could think of to get the name known world-wide. When America entered the Second World War in 1941, Woodruff ordered that “every man in uniform gets a bottle of Coca-Cola for 5 cents”. The soldiers took Coke to Europe with them, which is when many Europeans got their first taste of the stuff.
The success of the Coke brand (which has now expanded to include other drinks and has swallowed up lots of smaller food and drink companies) has been down to innovative advertising and marketing techniques – not the health qualities of the product.
While I have proved that it is lethal for nails, that doesn’t necessarily mean it is going to rot the human intestines. It probably would if they were left to soak in Coke for a few days, but that is hardly going to happen. Or is it? If you drink only Coke (as a friend of mine does), you are, in effect, soaking your intestines in the stuff. I don’t think it’s going to do you much good, and neither do the nutritionists I have spoken to.
I discussed this in passing with my mother one day, who drinks a LOT of Coke. Later that week she was telling me that she was concerned about her health and was going to go to the doctor. She said she had been feeling unusually tired. I was naturally concerned, until later she happened to mention that she had given up Coke a few days earlier. She wasn’t having her hourly caffeine fix! Now the Coke is out of her system she feels much better and doesn’t need chemical stimulants any more.
It’s not just the phosphoric acid that is bad in Coke, it’s the artificial sweeteners, the caffeine, and the other chemical junk. Try not to soak your intestines in it too often!